When purchasing Unix or Linux training for yourself of your staff, the
first consideration is to make sure you're buying the correct
training content. Content is basically divided into two types:
user training and system administration training.
Unix and Linux user classes - beginning or "advanced" - are basically the same whether you are working on Solaris or AIX or HP-UX or Linux. You don't need to find a Solaris user class, or AIX user class, or Linux user class. Thanks to industry-accepted standards, user commands across all these platforms are sufficiently similar that the classes are fully interchangeable.
Unix user training is important because Unix and Linux are both powerful and somewhat dangerous operating systems. They're only dangerous in that they tend to do what you tell them to, even if that's not what you intended. Also, the emphasis that Unix and Linux still place on the command line makes learning entirely by trial-and-error less practical than for some environments. Still, the value of Unix and Linux training isn't that it gives you all the answers, it's that it gives you a foundation to build on, and helps you avoid wasting time learning details that aren't important.
While users certainly need user training, many system administrators also need user training. Every administrator is a user, but not every user is an administrator. Some people feel that with the new graphical system administration tools, administrators don't need to be as fluent at the command line as in the past. But a big part of administration involves automating tasks, which generally requires knowledge of the command line. Unix and Linux configuration files are still primarily text-based, and a good portion of every user training class deals with techniques for efficient manipulation of text files. Scripts, written using the syntax and techniques taught in user classes, control system startup and shutdown activities, and software installation and updates.
Customers are sometimes surprised to learn that Shell Programming is considered user training in the Unix and Linux worlds. The problem is the word "programming", which suggests it's something only for developers. But because Unix was designed with programmers in mind, even routine tasks (like renaming a group of files) are performed most productively by writing scripts. At first people balk at shell programming, until they realize that writing little scripts is a lot like using a spreadsheet. Most people use spreadsheets all the time, without realizing that what they're doing is basically programming - for example, telling the spreadsheet to calculate values for a column by multiplying two other columns together. Probably spreadsheets would never have caught on if using them was called "spread sheet programming."
At first glance, Perl doesn't seem to have anything to do with Unix or Linux, although it was developed, and is perhaps still most often used, in a Unix environment. But Perl is now included with most Unix and Linux versions, so it's become another tool in users' toolboxes, and it's powerful enough to warrant a class by itself. Perl is an even more powerful tool for text processing and mathematical calculations than many of the traditional Unix and Linux commands, and can be used at directly the command line, as well as for powerful "one-liners" in shell scripts. Of course it can be used for stand-alone scripts as well, and includes a wealth of library modules for interoperating with other software, such as databases and web servers.
So the bottom line is: everybody involved with
Unix or Linux needs user training, and that training can be
delivered on any Unix or Linux platform.
Unix and Linux system administration training is another story.
If you have Solaris, you'll eventually
need a Solaris admin class. Same for HP,
etc. Now, it might be
a good idea
to precede that class with a generic administration class (such as we
offer), which can
teach you basic concepts, and how to apply some of the
Unix and Linux user commands to system administration. Some of
the nuances of using user commands in an administration context
aren't covered as thoroughly as they might be in platform-specific
training, because there would be just too much material to cover.
But eventually every administrator can benefit
from platform-specific training.
Should you get that training from a vendor (Sun, HP, etc.)
or "vendor-authorized training partner",
or will just any old training provider do? To be honest,
while you might want to "ramp up" with a generic
class like what we can provide, eventually you're going
vendor-specific - and probably vendor-provided - training.
When you get beyond user
classes, or an introductory administration class,
it's very difficult for an independent provider to
maintain up-to-date hardware, course materials, and expertise
on specific Unix or Linux implementations.
So why bother with independent training providers at all?
One of the best reasons is to save money:
independents can offer Unix and Linux user
training classes, often at
lower cost than a systems vendor.
Independent providers may also be able to
provide customized classes more economically and deliver
them at your site, or in locations
where vendors don't have training centers.
are also free to discuss
some of the deficiencies that every Unix and Linux version has,
and can make unbiased comments regarding competitors' offerings.
Instructor quality can be very similar between vendors and
independents, since in some
cases both vendors and independent providers draw from the same
pool of contract instructors.
Certification wasn't important for the first quarter century or so that Unix existed. But now it's become important, at least in some environments. Some Unix "old timers" brush off certifications, but I believe they're valuable. I have firsthand knowledge of only a few certifications. The Comptia Linux+ certification is considered an "entry level" certification for Linux administration, but I felt the second generation was a challenging and useful test. Linux Professional Institute (LPI) offers several levels of certifcations, and again I found the "entry level" certification was a good test. The Novell/SUSE Certified Linux Professional (CLP) certification is also allegedly "entry level", but I found it extremely challenging. It's a practicum, meaning that rather than answer multiple-choice questions, candidates perform tasks on remote servers.
Training can help with these certifications, but in fairness they all
require a degree of memorization - or at least task repetition - that
needs to be done outside of a classroom environment. While
instructors are obligated not to reveal the exact questions that are
on a specific test - and in reality we almost never know, or certainly
remember, any specific questions - we can help identify study topics and
techniques that worked for us.
Here are some additional suggestions for shopping for a Unix or Linux training provider or class:
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